The wonderful month of May brings much joy as spring fills the air, National Nurses Week is celebrated, and Mother’s Day is embraced. Our lives are starting to “right size” during this COVID-19 pandemic as we rearrange our priorities and adapt to a different lifestyle. The new normal way of life requires adjustments in so many aspects of daily living. We’re exercising safe practices to reduce exposure to the COVID-19 virus—wearing our masks, washing our hands, and maintaining our distance—sound practices to reduce the risk of acquiring the virus. Still, we have other health care needs that require medical care and attention.
Your Harmony Team is dedicated to assisting you and supporting your health care and fall prevention through Healthcare Solutions, which includes helping you stay active and safe during this outbreak. Last month, I provided you with exercises you can incorporate into your daily lives while sheltering in your home. Additionally, the Harmony Team posted information from the National Council on Aging that guides your safety while emphasizing the importance of staying active. This resource is here for your easy access.
Yet, a disturbing trend is occurring here in the U.S. and other countries that you may not be aware of. As reported in The Washington Post on April 19, 2020, patients with serious medical conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, and appendicitis have been vanishing from hospitals. The underlying assumption for this change is that people in need of care at a hospital are too worried to seek proper care—too frightened to go to the ER or to be hospitalized for fear of being exposed to the virus. Please read this article here.
The Harmony Team doesn’t want this to be you. If you need medical care because of an urgent or emergent situation, call for help. Ladies and gentlemen, this same guidance applies to falling. If you experience a fall, please let your Harmony Team and primary care provider know. Fall events are serious concerns when experienced by older adults. A fall can be a marker of an underlying medical condition. For example, a common cause of falls in older adults beyond strokes, heart attacks, or gait and balance problems is postural hypotension, also referred to as orthostasis.
Postural hypotension is a condition where your blood pressure drops when you change position, such as from lying down to standing up, sitting to standing up, or standing up too quickly after bending over. Postural hypotension can also occur as a side effect of medications, during or after exercising, after a large meal, or in the morning when your blood pressure is normally lower. When your blood pressure drops or does not resolve quickly to your normal blood pressure, you will fall. Fortunately, many older persons will feel dizziness or lightheadedness when the blood pressure is dropping—this usually occurs within one to three minutes. These persons are “symptomatic.” In other words, these persons have early warning symptoms to let them know they quickly need to sit down and allow time for the body to recover. However, not all older persons are symptomatic, leaving them with no warning symptom. These persons will just wake up on the floor, for example, and not know what happened. Thus, assessment of postural hypotension is extremely important as the causes are varied, complex, and most importantly, often treatable by your primary care provider. This condition is so common among older adults that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) included assessment, management, and education related to postural hypotension as one component of their four-pronged approach to fall risk screening in their 2017 STEADI (STopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, & Injuries) Program, to inform primary care providers and to educate you. Their education resource was developed just for you and is provided here.
Please review these resources and be among those older adults who do seek medical care when you have a medical need, concern, or question. Your Harmony Team and health care providers are dedicated to your health, wellness, function, and safety.
Stay strong, active, and connected with your health care team. We’re getting through these times together—we are rightsizing.
Your Harmony Team is here to help you!
Thank you for reading this message and, in advance, for sharing it with others.
Bernstein, L. & Sellers, F.S. (2020). Patients with heart attacks, strokes, and even appendicitis vanish from hospitals. The Washington Post. April 19, 2020
National Council on Aging, Encouraging older adults to stay active and safe during the coronavirus pandemic. iharmonyhealth.com/covid-19
Postural Hypotension: What it is & How to Manage it. CDC STEADI Program. cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/STEADI-Brochure-Postural-Hypotension-508.pdf